Communications Department

Family Members of Unborn Victims Go to Washington to Help Pass Bill

Apr 5, 2004 | Unborn Victims of Violence


The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 1997) carried the alternative title of “Laci and Conner’s Law,” at the request of the family of Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner, who were killed together in California in December, 2002.  The State of California is preparing to place Laci’s husband, Scott Peterson, on trial for two counts of murder.  Sharon Rocha, the mother of Laci and grandmother of Conner, played a key role in enactment of the bill, as did Laci’s stepfather, Ron Grantski.     

Both came to Washington to meet with senators during the days before the Senate took up the bill on March 25, and both were present when President Bush signed the bill on April 1.

At the request of NRLC, members of other families who had lost loved ones, born and unborn, in two-victim crimes also came to Washington to meet with senators and members of the news media.  They were:

*  Tracy Marciniak Seavers, whose unborn son Zachariah was killed in an assault during the ninth month.  Zachariah was not recognized as a victim under Wisconsin law at that time (1992), but his mother survived and worked with Wisconsin Right to Life to win successful enactment of a fetal homicide bill in 1998.  In testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee on July 8, 2003, Seavers challenged lawmakers to view a photograph of her cradling the body of her slain son, which is posted on the NRLC website at .  She suggested that those who believe the photograph shows only a single victim should vote for the “single-victim” bill, but those who believe the photo shows two victims should vote for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.  

 Carol and Buford Lyons, whose 18-year-old daughter Ashley Lyons and unborn grandson Landon (fifth month), were murdered in Scott County, Kentucky, on January 7, 2004.  A detailed account, “Remember Their Names,” appeared in the February edition of NRL News.  That article and an ultrasound video of Landon, made only hours before the killings, are posted here.  The Kentucky legislature enacted a fetal homicide law in February, partly in response to this case.  Carol Lyons said at a March 25 Capitol Hill press conference, “I’m appalled that Senator Kerry voted the wrong way.  He’s running for president of the United States, and he doesn’t believe there are two victims. . . . I know my grandbaby was real. . . . I have two victims.”

 Stephanie Alberts, of South Charleston, West Virginia, whose daughter Christina Renee Alberts and unborn granddaughter Ashley Nichole (ninth month) were killed together in a home-robbery execution in Kanawha County, West Virginia, on December 10, 1998.  A photo of Christina and Ashley together in a coffin at their funeral was shown by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) during the Senate debate. [WARNING:  Click here to see that photo.  Stephanie Alberts wishes this photo to be viewed by anyone who wants to understand why she believes this crime had two victims.]

West Virginia does not have a fetal homicide law, so Ashley was not recognized as a victim – indeed, it was forbidden to even mention Christina’s pregnancy during the trial of the murderers.  Mrs. Alberts worked with Karen Cross, executive director of West Virginians for Life, to win approval of an unborn victims law from the West Virginia legislature in March, but Governor Bob Wise (D) vetoed it on March 24.   

*  Cynthia Warner, of Minnetonka, Minnesota, whose daughter Heather Fliegelman and unborn grandson Jonah (ninth month) were killed on January 4, 2003, in Bangor, Maine.  Heather’s husband, Roscoe B. Sargent, stabbed Heather at least 47 times, for which he was convicted of murder on March 19, 2004.   [WARNING: Click here to view a photo taken at Jonah’s autopsy, as shown on the U.S. Senate floor by Sen. Sam Brownback during the March 25, 2004 debate.  Cynthia Warner wishes this photo to be viewed by anyone who wants to understand why she believes this crime had two victims.]

Because Maine does not have an unborn victims law, killing Jonah was not itself a crime. However, Sargent also killed the four family cats, and each feline death could have been punished by one year of incarceration under Maine law.  Heather’s aunt, Kristin Eckmann of Maine, joined Mrs. Warner to work for the bill.